Big Man starts high school in a few weeks (I figure if I keep saying/typing that, I might come to grips with it a little more quickly). He’s been practicing most of the summer with the cross country team. The coach does not have mine, nor does have spouse’s, email address. He only has Big Man’s email. He only has my phone number for emergencies. Thus, we are essentially out of the loop as far as practices and such. And I’m mostly okay with that. He’s almost fifteen. He is, for all intents and purposes, a high schooler. That changes the ballgame in a huge way.
We had a discussion the other night, due to the thunderstorms going on over the weekend. Now I know they run in rain. Lightning is a different story. So I asked if he’d emailed his coach to find out plans in case the storms continued through the next morning. He hedged. He gave me some vague reply. Eventually, he did email the coach, but was even more vague when I asked what about the response. I think he has halfway hoping I would tell him he didn’t have to go. My frustration grew, but I kept quiet.
I went into his room to tell him goodnight and rub his back for a few minutes. It was time for a chat. I told him, point blank, things are different now. It’s up to him. I don’t get regular notes and emails home from teachers and coaches telling me what’s going on, what assignments are due when, when tests are scheduled. It’s on him. It’s his responsibility. The safety net is still there, but it’s a lot lower than it used to be. And that’s the way it should be. He has to find the drive within himself. I can’t do it for him, and neither can his dad.
He’s a little nervous about his class load. He’s a smart cookie, particularly in math and science. Reading comes very easily to him as well. I have no doubt in his ability to not only manage this load, but to shine, and maybe enjoy the challenge. Same goes for cross country, and whatever other sports he tries. I told him he can sit back and let it come at him, wait for someone to point him in whatever direction, tell him what to do and when, keep using that safety net, or he can step up his game and learn. I’m going to push him to take it on, but he has to do it.
Parenting is getting sticky and definitely more scary. Spouse and I both want to guide him, offer advice, maybe make it a bit easier than each of us had it. But how many teenagers do you think actually listen to their parents’ advice on navigating life in high school? I don’t tell him many stories from my high school days. I don’t tell him “Don’t do what I did; don’t be like I was.” But I will continue to talk to him about digging in, finding whatever he needs to find within to drive him forward. I’m still here, but I’m trying to let him use those wings we’ve worked so hard to let him grow. It’s almost time for him to fly.